Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Monday, 29 September 2014

An Early Trade Union

Painted on a wall in Camden is this tribute to the Tolpuddle Martyrs.  Who were they?  Well they were agricultural labourers who worked on farms around Dorset during the 19th century.  Landowners of the period kept cutting wages until the labourers rebelled.  They formed a secret society to enable better organising of their protest.

One landowner decided he wasn't having a bar of this and wrote to the prime minister demanding that they be charged under some obscure 18th century law that forbade people swearing oaths to one another.  Makes me wonder if marriage is legal then.  That aside, the leaders of the friendly society were duly charged and convicted.  Their sentence was to be be shipped out to Australia.  You did know all those Aussies are a bunch of criminals didn't you?

The sentence did not go down very well with the population at all.  The protest grew even bigger.  Marches and petitions ensued until the government relented and brought the men back from Australia.  Well not quite all of them, a couple of the men who had other convictions remained there. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Ted's takes an early train ...

But what are we going to eat? Long gone are the days of a pie or a scone and a cup of tea on proper thick railway china with the faded monogram of the train company stamped proudly on each piece. Well from everywhere except Downton Abbey anyway.

We were heading off rather early on a train journey to the land of beer, chocolate and diamonds with a friend who shall remain nameless (Lizzie). So early in fact that it meant breakfast was not going to be possible at home.  I felt quite safe heading off without food as most railway stations nowadays are full of all manner of places offering a quick gobble and go opportunity before running for your train, or a range of pre-packed food and beverages to take on the train, to be consumed at your leisure.

First stop was a coffee shop on the station concourse. I was rather happy when I found these lovely looking pastries.  The taste panel first rejected the coffee as bitter and the pastries didn't fair much better. Crisp, light, and flaky with a melt in your mouth butteriness they so were not!! Ok so this wasn't France, but just as well as they would likely have thrown whomever baked these into the Bastille, and made them eat their own cooking until they were suitably rehabilitated and changed jobs.  In this instance a brick layer would have been a good choice, as they could have made their own materials!!

Never mind Ted there's always the food on the train said Lizzie. The train had barely left the station when I made a rush for the buffet car. There was no granola and yoghurt, but I could have had Moroccan tagine, Bloody Mary, Champagne, crisps or something that looked like a long life muffin, that was now entitled to draw a pension. I chose little fruit pack of apples and grapes that were all nicely pre-sliced for me and tasted like well... apple slices with grapes.  The only other thing that vaguely appealed was a sandwich trio pack of english favourites - egg & cress, bacon & lettuce, and prawns & mayonnaise.  Not that I imagine the Earl of Sandwich had anything even vaguely like that between the two pieces of bread his manservant returned with when sent away with instructions to come back with some form of nourishment that he could manage to eat with one hand while continuing to play cards and gamble away the family fortune with the other hand.

So all in all how was it Ted ... my advice is to either take a home made picnic on the train or pretend that crisps are actually grown up cornflakes and feel no guilt. After all ... you got up soooo early to catch this train.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Mean Machine

That's one mean machine repairing the road.  I've only seen steam rollers doing this work before. (what are they called now as they aren't run by steam but we still call them that?)  This one though looks like something out of a terminator movie.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Peter Pan and Tinkerbell

At last I've finally seen them.  Peter Pan and Tinkerbell have been behind hoardings for a couple of years.  They stand at the entrance to Great Ormonds children's hospital blowing kisses of magic.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Off Duty Soldier

We've had a lot of Roman history this week so I thought you might be interested in what a Roman soldier does for leisure.  Table tennis of course.  Didn't you know that?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


It's all about bring a smile to your daily grind.  A giant hippo wallows in the Thames with its big eyes and pink nostrils staring out at passersby.   The work of artist Florentijn Hofman, who is known for creating huge sculptures from everyday objects such as a rubber duck or a paper boat.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Royal Exchange Building

Perhaps one of the very first shopping malls in the world!  The first Royal exchange building with its boutique shops stood here in 1571.  It burnt down in the 1666 great fire.  The current building is the third one, built by the Victorians.

However this spot has been significant for a lot longer than the middle ages.  The cross roads on which it stands is the meeting of five major roads that all lead out to the various parts of England.  These roads were built by the Romans and now all feed into the main arterial routes that exist today.  

Monday, 22 September 2014

Roman Bath House

OK it looks like a rubble of rocks but let me explain the significance of the rubble.  This is the remains of a Roman Bath House.  The Billingsgate house and Bath House were believed to have been built in 2AD.  It is a very important find as it is the only known building to survive from Roman London that was still in use as late as the 5th century, the end of the Roman era here.

A model of what the bath house would have looked like is pictured on the left.  It is unusual as it is too small to be a public bath house, and the deign of the house itself, plus the artefacts found during the excavations clearly indicate it was not the property of a wealthy owner.  One theory is that it could have been a private spa.

Let me explain how the bath house (left) was used.  The little room at the front on the left hand side was the hot steam room.  The water from an underground spring was heated under the floor, then piped across to the little room on the right hand side.  This was the warm room.

The large room at the rear is the cold room.  Bathers could cool of here and have the hair pluckers remove    all body hair, as was the fashion of the day.

The image above is a glimpse of the hot room.  What you are seeing here is the floor of the room, the pipes carrying the heated water would have lain where the gaps that look a bit like tunnels on the left of the frame.

The entire ruin was so well preserved as it was buried under a thick layer of debris as a result of the London fire in 1666.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Ted and the Glorious 12

But Doll, I don’t think I even like whisky, and you said I already have enough expensive habits!

The Doll had been invited to a “here for three days only” pop up Scottish wild game and malt whisky bar and restaurant called Glorious 12, and she wanted me to go with her to the food and whisky matching session.  She said that I had never tried any “decent” Scottish single malt whisky, that I had a duty to keep you lot entertained, and that this was something a little different that you might like.

When I realised that the wild game was coming from Andy of the Wild Game Co (remember the Struie Road pop up) I felt a lot better. The Whisky was being supplied by the Scottish Malt Whisky Society, a members only society, who source casks of single malt from various distilleries around Scotland and bottle it at true cask strength, usually around 50 – 56%.  The alcohol percentage in most commercially available whiskies is diluted down to around 40 – 43% before bottling.

We got to choose one of the three wild game menus with four dishes and an accompanying whisky matched to each dish. 

I thought this was where the name of the pop up had come from until I was enlightened by a fellow dinner who shall remain nameless (cos I don’t know his name) that it was a play on the “Glorious 12th which is the 12th of August – the official opening of the British game season. 

The menu for novices or those who prefer their whisky lighter was “Toe in the Water”, for those in the middle there was “a Walk on the Wild Side” and for the dedicated lovers of all things wildly gamey and the heavier and more peaty styles of whisky “Brace Yourself” was offered.

The Doll chose Brace Yourself.  I came over all Lou Reed like and chose a Walk on the Wild Side and got roe deer, grouse, smoked rabbit, and honey roasted woodcock.  The accompanying whiskies in the same order were 35.120 deep, rich & dried fruits; 7.96 light & delicate; 66.57 oily & coastal and 76.120 young & spritely.

"So Ted how was it?" I hear you asking ... well ... it was nothing short of a true revelation actually.  I had no idea whisky could go so well with food, and that yes … I could even like it. 

Each society bottle has a numeric code printed directly onto the bottle which serves as it's label and identification, visit their site to crack it, as their newest member I am sworn to secrecy.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Exhibition - People of Honduras

As part of the celebrations of the 193rd anniversiary of Independence of Honduras, the embassy of Honduras is hosting an exhibition by Photographer Angelika Berndt.  "I focus on the invisible culture that manifests itself in day to day life" is how Berndt describes her work.

Berdnt's images offer us an intimate glimpse into the lives of the people of Honduras.  She clearly has been welcomed into the lives of those she photographs as the portraits reveal both the trust afforded her and her empathy with the people she photographs.  The vibrant colours of the country and the women leap out of the portraits, you can almost feel the hot sun on your face.  It is not just the portraits of family life but also the people at work, we can see it is a hard live but there is still a joy that exudes from the people that Berndt has so beautifully captured.

The exhibition - Hondureno - People of Honduras  runs until the 19th October 2014.  Opening hours: 10:00 - 17:00

The Montgomery Room
Canning House
14-15 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PS

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Dog and the Squirrel

That pesky squirrel keeps moving and moving, slowly does it, don't want to startle it.  

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Stay in Style

If you fancy rubbing shoulders with movie stars then book a room at the luxury Athenaeum Hotel in Mayfair.  Just down the road from the Palace.

Rumour has it that when it was the home of the Duke of Newcastle had to sell it to pay off his gambling debts.  The house then enjoyed a spell of being a gentlemen's club favoured by MP's and Lords before finally becoming a luxury hotel favoured by the Beverley Hills set.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Union Jack

We've  seen more of the union jack flying around the country in the past few weeks than in all the time I've lived here.  Just one more day before we know its fate.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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